This is the review & analysis of the second half of the penultimate episode, here is the first part if you missed it. There was simply so damn much happening that we couldn’t even attempt to do it justice struggling to fit it all into one article. We start off with Alina and Mal who are huddled up in the snowy forests. Discussing their need to find the Stag. And low and behold, the incredible tracker actually finds this mythical creature. Having read and been told that killing the animal and wearing its bones was the only way to extract the power and use the amplifier as a Grisha, Alina starts to doubt that this might be the only way. Maybe there is another path they can take that doesn’t involve killing it. She walks over to the Stag and connects with it, encasing her in a powerful glow, showing us a hint of the kind of power she could wield with the Stag’s influence. Until Kirigan and his cronies show up, clever and cunning as he is he makes her choose between the Stag staying alive or Mal. Knowing exactly what her weak spot is, he presses on it, heavily.
A conversation between Inej and Kaz of the Crows takes place that actually holds some philosophical ponderings. Inej openly being Suli and believing in faith and saints, is the counterpart to Kaz Brekker who believes in nothing but himself. But both belief systems stemmed from childhoods. Inej initially having a loving family, before being indentured to wealthy merchants. Kaz having been born and grown up on the rough streets of the Barrel in Ketterdam.
Inej – “If not saints, what do you believe in? ” Kaz – “Myself. And you. Jesper. My Crows.” Inej – “Because we flock to your bidding? Like the animals of vengeance you named us after? ” Kaz – “Crows don’t just remember the faces of people who wronged them. They also remember those who were kind. They tell each other who to look after and who to watch out for. No Saint ever watched over me. Not like you have.”
Its an interesting dynamic because not only does it lightly touch of the Philosophical concept of Solipsism; the view that the self is all that can be known to exist. But alters it / branches off to extrapolate this concept into what one believes in or has faith of the inner character of others. Kaz believing that only those close that he trusts beyond all else can be counted on.
Kirigan forces Alina to have the Collar put around her neck and then David melds it into her flesh, along with a piece of it also being embedded in the Darkling’s hand. Serving as a conduit link, providing him access to use Alina’s powers, and even Alina herself. After this, The Darkling pays Mal a visit that turns out to be quite diabolical. Linking back to the beginning of this article, when we were discussing the Darkling’s unending life. What’s interesting in this episode is that we find out that Alina will be the same. Eternal. During an incredibly intense conversation between Mal and the Darkling himself. Mal asks if he has come to kill him, the darkling says no, that he is a man of his word.
Alexander “Alina has strong feelings for you. And you for her. I read your letters. But all these years you never truly appreciated who she is. But it’s alright, because I do.
Mal “oh you have no chance, Shadow Man. Because I’m the one she chose.
Alexander “You are a child. And she is Grisha. Take away my Shadows, and I still have something that you don’t. Patience. Alina may well take years to forgive me, but I can wait. Meanwhile, you will grow old. Your hair will grey, and she will remain ageless. Like me. And one day, maybe a year from now, maybe fifty. She’ll realize that she has only one equal. That there are no others like us. And that there never will be. I’m not going to kill you Mal. I don’t need to. Time will do it for me.”
Well Hot damn. You’ve got to hand it to the Darkling he can give one hell of a rousing speech. His sense of time being so altered to a regular humans or even some Grisha is one to definitely take into account. Waiting a few years, or even fifty plus for Alina to forgive him is a power that no one else can feasibly compete with. The obstacle of death is one he has repeatedly triumphed over. He is also highly calculated and deliberate in every word that comes out of his mouth. Very rarely to never outright lying but crafting his words so carefully that technically they are the truth. And because of this, it makes it easy for him to be able to say that he is a man of his word.
After hearing this plan of the Darkling’s, Mal hatches a plan to escape his shackles, and succeeds quite quickly in this particular endeavour. We then see a further conversation between Alina and Alexander. Something occurred that I wasn’t entirely prepared for. The Darkling pleads his case to her, they both reveal truths they know about the other – Alina mostly, knowing he is in fact the Black Heretic, that he created the fold, conspired to kill the King with the Apparat. Take control of Ravka. Etc. I was surprised by the strength of his sincerity in the reasons why he has done everything he has ever done. Undoubtedly he has made decisions that had farther-reaching repercussions than he had planned for or even anticipated. But for a race to be subjugated and belittled, threatened by their mere existence. Does not every revolution result in bloodshed in order to effect change?
Riots against misjustice, be they in regard to race/ ethnicity, gender, religion, sexuality – none of the movements that have occurred on earth were entirely peaceful. Knowing the King sits on a gilded throne, coerces servants into sex, watches as millions starved outside the walls of his palace and continued his gluttonous endeavours with obvious apathy. Is it actually that wrong to want to usurp the throne? Not sure that it is. Now the way the Darkling is going about it, not ideal. Literally imprisoning the girl he no doubt has intense feelings for, putting a collar on her to control her power, and using The Fold as a weapon against people, innocent and guilty alike. Technically he is the “baddie” but Ben Barnes and the writers really do go above and beyond making this character as mutli-faceted as possible. Nothing is ever simple, he isn’t black and white. Good or bad. Like most people in unjust situations, their goals are pure, but the methods used to obtain said goals can land in murky waters. Alina and the Darkling board the ship, and we see the Crows make their way on board useing papers that are undoubtedly stolen or forged. Leading us into the darkness of The Fold and the final episode. The Darkling as always getting the last word in.